Okay, let’s get this straight from the beginning: if you’re going to make one recipe from this blog, this is it. And, no cheating. Make it exactly as we describe, because it’s perfect. Eating these will change your life, or at least make you think that you can make some really, really fantastic food, from scratch.
This is another recipe that we’ve known about for several years, but waited until we had everything in-house to do it right. In our case, we were missing a tamis, or drum sifter, through which to press the potatoes. Looking on-line, we dithered, because you really can’t see how well something is made, and we sure didn’t want to spend good money on a not-so-good piece of equipment. So, when we found one in a local store, we snapped it up, and were set.
Oh, this recipe is from The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller; even so, we were just amazed by how good these blini taste.
We made up about 1/2 cup of crème fraîche (really just scratched sour cream) just for this recipe, knowing that we’d whip the excess crème fraîche for a topping. It whips just like whipped cream, but tastes more savory. You should, too; it’s super-easy, and well worth it. If you have it, use white pepper for the color, but if, like us, you don’t have white pepper on hand, use black pepper. These blini are too good to wait until you have white pepper. Finally, if you use a scale to weigh out the potatoes, the batter should come out with the perfect consistency.
Procedure in detail:
Boil potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. A nice way to check the potatoes for done-ness is to use a small skewer or cake tester. It won’t split open the potatoes and allow the starch to leak out.
Peel potatoes. Drain the potatoes, and, as soon as you can, peel off the skins. We found it easiest just to use our fingernails to get the skin started; after that, most of the skins slipped off with just a little encouragement. Any remaining bits of potato skin we pulled off with a knife. Do not rinse the peeled potatoes.
Press potatoes. We think this is the secret: press the potatoes through a fine mesh tamis or sieve. This will make them smoother than any ricer, really. Amazingly smooth. It’s more trouble than mashing or ricing, but we did it, and think it was well worth the effort.
Weigh potatoes. Once you’ve pressed the potatoes through the tamis, weigh out 9 ounces, or 250 grams, into a medium-sized bowl. Work quickly, because you don’t want the potatoes to get cold. We did this quickly by weighing our bowl, then calculating how much it would weigh when we added the 9 ounces of potatoes. After that, we just kept adding potatoes until we hit our mark.
Heat griddle. Now’s a good time to start heating up a non-stick griddle. If you have an electric griddle, set it to 350°F. Otherwise, heat a griddle or non-stick pan over medium-low heat.
Add flour. Whisk the two tablespoons of flour into the potatoes until smooth. At first, the flour might just sit on the potatoes, but keep whisking; it’ll incorporate.
Add crème fraîche. Add the two tablespoons of crème fraîche, whisking thoroughly afterwards.
Add eggs. Add one egg, whisk it in completely, then the next egg, whisk in completely, and, finally, add the egg yolk and whisk in completely.
Test batter. Lift up the whisk with some batter on it. The batter should stream down, but hold its shape when it hits the batter in the bowl. If needed, add a little more crème fraîche.
Cook blini. For each blini, scoop about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the batter onto the hot griddle. These are supposed to be very small, about 1-2 inches, so don’t be tempted to increase the amount of batter. Fry for about 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until the blini are evenly browned. Flip and fry on the other side for about the same time.
Serve. Blini are often used as a base for small appetizers, but we just whisked the remaining crème fraîche until it was like stiff whipped cream and served our blini with a dollop of that, topped by a small spoonful of homemade blackberry jam. If you need to serve numerous people, you can keep the blini warm on a baking sheet in a low oven.
These really were amazingly good — one of the best things we’ve ever made. We ended up eating all the blini for lunch one day and never even thought of stopping until the batter was gone. Super smooth, without even the slightest hint of a lump, these seemed to melt in the mouth as we ate them, which we think was a testament to pressing the potatoes through a tamis. Even though they’re made mainly from potatoes, they’re light, but, we will warn you, they’re rich. If you make these, though, you’ll be happy for days. Maybe longer. Five stars.